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Creating Customer Satisfaction Surveys

A customer satisfaction survey is a simple tool used to gain insight from your recent customers. Creating an effective survey requires careful consideration of what data you want and how to best collect that data. Learn how to ask the right questions and how to use that data to improve your company.

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What is a customer satisfaction survey?

Customer satisfaction surveys are analytical tools that collect feedback directly from your customers. They’re often done electronically through online survey platforms, but you can also use traditional paper surveys either in your physical location or through the mail. You can customize the survey to include specific questions and rating scales to get the data you want.

Benefits of a customer satisfaction survey

Creating a customer satisfaction survey lets you hear directly from consumers to assess how you’re doing. A customer survey is an effective way to create a feedback loop, which means you use the feedback you receive to make your company better.

When you use feedback to give customers what they want, you’re more likely to retain them and encourage more purchases. Without customer surveys, it can be difficult to know how you’re doing. The survey can also help you get to know your target audience better.

Defining your purpose

Decide why you’re surveying your customers. Have a specific goal and data in mind when developing the questions. This can also help you decide which segment of your customer base you want to target for the survey.

Types of questions to ask

The information you want to gather can influence the type of questions you ask. Include a variety of question types to collect more detailed information. The following question types can work on a survey.

Scale ratings

Rating scales let participants rank their satisfaction or preferences on a numerical scale. Common scales range from one to five or one to 10. Include a guide for what each number means to create more consistency in the answers. You can have participants rate how satisfied they were with particular experiences or products.

Multiple choice

For a question with a set number of responses, a multiple-choice format is an easy option. For example, you might ask which location the customer visited if you have multiple brick-and-mortar shops. The number of answers is flexible, but it’s generally best to stick to no more than four or five answers.

Yes or no

If a question doesn’t have much room for variation, a simple yes or no question format can work. These questions are very simple to evaluate and let you quickly calculate the data.

Open-ended

When you want more detailed opinions, open-ended questions are an option. Survey participants can write whatever they want in an open box. This type of survey takes longer for you to review, since it’s not a standard answer format. However, it can give you specifics on past experiences, and it allows survey participants to share ideas that you might include on future surveys.

Topics to include on a survey of customer satisfaction

The topics that you cover on a survey of customer satisfaction depend on what you want to know. If you’re trying to improve your product design, you’ll ask questions about how your customers use the products and what they think about them. If you want to improve your customer service, you might ask questions about recent experiences with your company.

Some topics to consider include:

  • Demographics: Demographic questions can cover topics, such as age, education, household income, marital status and children. This can help you recognize patterns among people in different demographics.
  • Usage: Questions about how frequently customers use a product or service can help you understand and improve your offerings.
  • Satisfaction: Break down satisfaction topics based on different parts of the product and experience, such as the overall quality, value, ease of installation and warranty.
  • Follow up: If you want the option to ask additional questions or follow up with a call, ask for permission in the survey.
  • Experience: In response to an interaction with customer service or in-person service, ask about how the customer would rate the experience. This helps you identify opportunities to improve customer service.
  • Product design: Ask about features the product has or doesn’t have and what could be improved about the design.

Examples of questions to ask

Here are some specific examples of questions you can use or adapt for your survey:

  • How satisfied are you with this product?
  • Which feature of this product do you find most useful?
  • What feature is missing from this product?
  • How would you rate the value of this product?
  • How easy was it to set up this product?
  • How would you rate the company’s response to your recent issue?
  • Was your issue resolved to your satisfaction?
  • How often do you use our product?
  • Did you try other products before ours?
  • How likely are you to recommend us to someone else?

When to use a customer survey

The timing makes a difference in how valuable the information is. Offer survey opportunities to customers who have had a chance to interact with your brand. Surveying someone who just started following your business or signed up for your email newsletter isn’t a good use of your time. They don’t have enough experience with the company to provide real feedback.

If you wait too long, the data won’t be relevant, either. For example, if a customer no longer does business with you and hasn’t for several months, they might find it strange to receive a survey from you. They also won’t have current experience with your company if you’ve changed things about your business.

Send a survey after major interactions with your brand. Examples include after:

  • Booking an experience
  • Completion of an experience
  • Major purchase
  • Interaction with a customer service representative
  • Using your mobile app

Ways to use the results

Creating your survey is the first step. Once you have results, you need to use them to make the survey valuable. Analyzing the data helps you notice trends or common themes, such as a cumbersome checkout experience or inconsistent interactions with customer service reps.

Here are some ways to use the results:

  • Improve your products or services to better match what customers want
  • Plan training for employees to improve the customer care experience
  • Guide new product planning to satisfy unmet needs
  • Work to improve customer loyalty
  • Report to management and key stakeholders

Tips for creating surveys

For additional help, use these tips for your customer satisfaction survey process:

  • Create consistent scales: When using rating scales, ensure they’re consistent throughout the survey. For example, if you use 1 to represent “strongly disagree” in one part, you should also use 1 to represent “least important” in another section. In other words, 1 should always be the lowest rating.
  • Don’t lead the participants: Keep the bias out of your questions with neutral phrasing. For example, if you describe your latest product as superior and technologically advanced, you’re leading them to answer positively.
  • Consider a reward: Getting customers to participate isn’t always easy. Adding an incentive, such as a small discount or an entry into a giveaway, can encourage them to complete the survey.
  • Use A/B testing: Create two surveys and test them with different groups of customers. Check the response rate to see which survey performs better.
  • Optimize surveys for mobile use: Making your surveys compatible with mobile devices increases the response rate.
  • Stick to one question at a time: Only ask one question for each entry on the survey instead of combining multiple questions into one. This makes the questions easier to understand and ensures you get accurate data.
  • Do regular surveys: Ongoing surveys let you collect data over time and see how the experience changes. This can help you determine if the changes you’re making are working.
  • Account for outliers: Remember that some people will lie on surveys or answer the way they think you want them to answer. Some might accidentally choose the wrong answer. A few outliers in the responses usually aren’t cause for alarm.

FAQs about customer surveys

How can you make customer satisfaction surveys more effective?

Be sure your survey questions are clear and specific. Have an employee or a customer that you know well read through the survey to verify that it makes sense. Ensure the survey has a specific purpose and that the questions align with that purpose. Adjust your survey questions as needed to make the tool more effective. You can also create different surveys for various situations. For example, create a survey to send after someone has a problem, makes a purchase or receives service from your company.

How long should a customer survey be?

Keep your surveys as short as possible while still getting the information you need. Ideally, the survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Customers might skip the survey completely or stop midway through if they decide it’s too long. Some people will rush through the questions if it’s a long survey, which can make the answers less accurate.

How do you decide which questions to include on the survey?

Consider your goals for the customer satisfaction survey. What are you trying to find out and how do you plan to use that information? Only include questions that satisfy that goal. Throwing in extra questions just because you’re already doing a survey can make the survey unnecessarily long and might cause people to quit before completing it.

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